Just more politics, not a “clash of civilisations”

The Guardian: a global survey released on Monday showed that most people believe the current clash between Islamists and the West is primarily political rather than genuinely based on religious and cultural differences. (NB: update appended – debunking the talking-point that Iraqis are better off now than under Saddam, and “the left” are apologists for atrocities who want the Iraqia to suffer.)

“Most people round the world clearly reject the idea that Islam and the west are caught in an inevitable clash of civilisations,” said Steven Kull, director of the Programme on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which was also involved in the survey of 28,000 people.

In the UK, 77% of those polled believe Islam and the west can find common ground. In Italy the figure is 78%, in France 69% but only 49% in Germany. A majority of Americans (64%) think it is possible to find common ground, though about a third (31%) believe violent conflict is inevitable.

The concept of a “clash of civilisations” originated with the Harvard thinker Samuel Huntington, who argued that conflict between cultures, especially between the west and Islam, was replacing the old cold war confrontation between east and west. Similar language is used by Osama Bin Laden and other jihadists.

The BBC survey found that 58% attributed tensions to intolerant minorities, rather than fundamental differences between cultures. (emphasis mine)

In that bolded portion above, the intolerant minorities referred to were certain groups of both Christians and Muslims.

Auguste at Pandagon has more, particularly referring to how this plays against the American war-justification rhetoric of the alleged overwhelming Islamofascist threat.

I’m not sure Bush sees it [as an epic struggle between cultures], or his defenders in the government. But the right-wing politicians know that to maintain support for the war they have to at least hint that they see it that way, and every time they do, they’re inundated with approval from the wingnuts through the media. After awhile, it doesn’t matter what the politicians believe: They’re past the point of no return. To say, now, that this Islamofascist threat they’ve been touting can be solved by diplomatic and political means – as most of the world believes – would be both to admit they were wrong, and to see the desertion of their hardcore defenders, which coincidentally are they only defenders they have left.

ADDIT: Anonymous Lefty’s No-one can honestly believe the Iraq War didn’t make things better for Iraqis takes on another common pro-war mantra that seeks to not only exaggerate the Islam/West culture clash but also to invent more reasons for the “left”/”right” culture war as well by painting “the left” as apologists for religious oppressions and atrocities when they criticise the Iraq invasion.

Like Cohen’s, Julie’s attack on the left is based on two assumptions: one, that overall the recent wars have made things better for the people of the countries involved; and two, that no-one could honestly doubt this.
That’s of course complete rubbish. The left, which of course was not in power and not running the war, tried to put pressure on their governments to act honourably and ethically. Not to corruptly give contracts to their own private companies without open tenders. Not to torture Iraqis picked up. To emphasise the rebuilding of infrastructure so that Iraqis could have water and electricity. Not, in summary, to act as an occupying force whose only interest was securing the oil and setting up a compliant government that would do whatever Washington asked of it.

In other words, the left pushed for the only things that would have saved the occupation. The fact that the neo-cons clearly didn’t care about these things, and the Iraqis could see it, is what made the war completely unwinnable.

via Shakespeare’s Sister, River at Baghdad Burning blogs about the first brave woman to go on TV under her own name and tell of how she was kidnapped and gang-raped by American-trained Iraqi security forces:

“¦I look at this woman and I can’t feel anything but rage. What did we gain? I know that looking at her, foreigners will never be able to relate. They’ll feel pity and maybe some anger, but she’s one of us. She’s not a girl in jeans and a t-shirt so there will only be a vague sort of sympathy. Poor third-world countries””that is what their womenfolk tolerate. Just know that we never had to tolerate this before. There was a time when Iraqis were safe in the streets. That time is long gone. We consoled ourselves after the war with the fact that we at least had a modicum of safety in our homes. Homes are sacred, aren’t they? That is gone too.

I agree with the majority of people polled around the world: there is no “clash of civilisations”, the political conflicts can and should be addressed with diplomacy, people of Islam and the West have more interests in common than differences, and the Iraq invasion was a monumental error based on misinformation, poor strategy and intelligence. The Iraq invasion has made the lives of ordinary Iraqis worse, far worse, than their lives under the rule of Saddam: corrupt, homicidal and genocidal though he was.

Those of us always against the war never thought Saddam was a saint, or that there weren’t repressive problems for people, especially women, in nations strongly influenced by fundamentalist Islamist mullahs/imams. But just because certain bigoted and intolerant Muslims want to attack and destroy the West, and certain bigoted and intolerant Westerner want to attack and destroy Islam, doesn’t mean the rest of us have to let them drag us into barbarity.

Categories: culture wars, Politics, social justice

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